CHICAGO — Mitchell Trubisky ran and ran and ran some more. But from a Patriots team starving for its first road win Sunday, the Chicago Bears could not hide.
In the most bizarre game of its season, New England triumphed 38-31 on a brisk afternoon at Soldier Field. The Patriots scored two special-teams touchdowns, first on a 95-yard kickoff return and then through Kyle Van Noy’s 29-yard blocked punt return in the third quarter that gave them a lead they never surrendered. In between, Trubisky rushed for 81 yards to sustain multiple Bears scoring drives.
Offensively, Tom Brady kept New England (5-2) humming despite the loss of rookie running back Sony Michel to a nasty knee injury in the first quarter. Brady completed 25 of 36 passes for for 277 yards and two touchdowns, also helping the Patriots overcome a smattering of self-inflicted wounds; namely three fumbles, a tipped interception and an assortment of penalties.
Once Trubisky (26 of 50, 333 yards, two TD, two INTs) was restrained from beating New England with his legs, he failed to throw Chicago (3-3) to victory, firing two second-half interceptions to J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones. The Bears took a 24-21 lead early in the third before allowing 17 straight points until a Brady pass went through the hands of James Develin for an interception.
However, afforded plus field position after Brady’s pick, Trubisky did convert on an 11-yard scoring toss to Trey Byrton (nine catches, 126 yards, 1 TD). And returned the ball with moments left, Trubisky nearly tied the game on a final Hail Mary attempt, when he found Kevin White on a 53-yard heave that fell just shy of the end zone.
But before the day’s topsy-turvy nature took hold, the Pats coasted to a touchdown on their opening drive, an eight-play series capped by Julian Edelman’s nine-yard touchdown on a quick screen. New England hit Chicago’s vaunted defense over the head with misdirection at the start, running four screens and a draw play right out of the gates.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Bears scored first on a 45-yard field goal. Kicking away, they took the ball right back on a fumble by Patriots kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. Five plays later, Chicago hit pay dirt after an eight-yard Trubisky scramble that had him veering back to his own 30 and then jogging behind blockers into the end zone.
Ahead 10-7, Chicago was again gifted terrific field position. This time, a Michel fumble set the Bears up at New England’s 38-yard line. Michel had been twisted down and dropped the ball from the resulting pain. He did not return.
As the Bears struggled to finish their latest mini drive, the Patriots gave them new life via two penalties and a dropped interception. At last, Jordan Howard punched in a two-yard touchdown.
Patterson then quickly atoned for his fumble his first return touchdown of the year, during which he coasted for the last 30 yards. The Patriots next forced a punt and drove 64 yards over a dozen plays for a go-ahead Brady touchdown pass to James White. However, the score would have been impossible without a 19-yard lob to Josh Gordon on fourth-and-one, which Gordon came down with over Bears corner Kyle Fuller.
A trade of punts then wrapped up the first half at 21-17 New England.
After Trubisky hit Tarik Cohen on a six-yard screen pass to start the half, Gostkowski nailed a 29-yard field goal, Van Noy rumbled for a score and James White tacked on his second touchdown, which proved to be the game-winner. White then iced the game away with a series of hand-offs during a game-sealing four-minute drill.
Pass protection: The Patriots surrendered one sack and two quarterback hits to Khalil Mack and Co., the league’s top-ranked defense by DVOA.
Return units: Patterson scored a 95-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, and Dont’a Hightower blocked a punt in the third to set up a 29-yard touchdown return by Kyle Van Noy.
James White: White totaled 97 yards and two scores on 19 touches. He’s scored in five of seven games this season.
Josh Gordon: Gordon recorded his longest reception since 2013 with a 55-yarder in the third quarter. He reached 100 receiving yards on four catches.
Stephon Gilmore: Tasked with trailing Allen Robinson on most snaps, Gilmore held the Bears’ top target to one catch for four receiving yards.
Pocket containment: The Patriots failed to keep Trubisky inside the pocket for most of the first half. Three of his first four scrambles led to first downs or a touchdown.
Ball security: Patterson fumbled his first kick return of the day and set Chicago up with first-and-10 from New England’s 24-yard line. A Sony Michel fumble on the ensuing possession then put Chicago inside the Pats’ 40, the starting point of another scoring drive. Julian Edelman muffed a punt near the end of the second quarter, and James Develin coughed up a Brady pass that led to a Bears touchdown.
J.C. Jackson: Until his third-quarter interception, the handsy rookie cornerback was whistled for two hands-to-the-face penalties and another defensive pass interference call. He also let up a third-down completion that moved the chains.